The Gay Old Party: a Republican base in denial about their party’s tolerance

Dale Carpenter over at the Volokh Conspiracy returns to a subject that I’m always amazed more people don’t talk about: the vast majority of Republican politicians and staffers in Washington aren’t actually anti-gay.  We’re not just talking about the Log Cabin Republicans either: we’re talking about many people within RNC, that work on Republican campaigns, that serve as Congressional staff, and so on.  Nor is this even a secret among Republicans in Washington.  It just isn’t talked about in public.

This most-recent case of (R)Senator Larry Craig’s arrest, supposedly for “cruising” an airport bathroom, just underscores that this is a party in which the base is grossly out of touch with the professional class that runs it in Washington D.C. While Republicans in the capitol have learned to keep their tolerant attitudes quiet by token oppositions to gay rights, this juggling act can’t go on forever. Someday, perhaps soon, the Republican party is either going to have to come to face with itself and end their de facto “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gay politicians and staffers, or outright purge the party of homosexual leaders and employees. Carpenter believes that the latter is pragmatically impossible. We’ll see if Republican leaders can gather the guts to do the former before this issue tears them apart.

(By the way, gay or straight, I think that there is a good case to be made that Senator Craig got railroaded here: nothing in his charged conduct was actually illegal as far as I can tell, and he was basically blackmailed into pleading guilty on disorderly conduct so as to avoid the publicity of trying to refute the allegations publicly in court.)

2 Responses to The Gay Old Party: a Republican base in denial about their party’s tolerance

  1. expatbrian says:

    I like your blog but disagree with your take on Craig as I responded on my blog. He was arested. At least the arresting officer who is supposed to be a trained professional, and who was the only witness, felt he had cause to arrest Craig, not for committing a legal act but for committing an illegal one. And if Craigs intent was to avoid publicity by pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit, he obviously did the dumbest possible thing. In a town full of lawyers I just can’t buy his weak story.

  2. Bad says:

    The problem is that there wasn’t any legal grounds for the arrest. It’s not illegal to even full out walk up to someone and ask them to sleep with you, let alone supposedly give cryptic code signals. The only thing that even came close to anything illegal was the accusation that Craig peeped into the stall, but he wasn’t actually charged with that, and it’s still pretty thin evidence (after all, the officer was sitting in the john for twenty minutes: plenty of sane people might wonder why he was taking that long when they were waiting for a stall.

    I don’t see that his plea was necessarily dumb. He was very nearly correct: the arrest record went unnoticed for 3 months after all. If he hadn’t pled, the officer made it clear that he’d ruin Craig’s career just by publicizing the accusations. So Craig didn’t really have a choice,

    I don’t have much sympathy with his politics, but I also don’t think this was legitimate policework.

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